A new Australia-specific blog search engine called gnoos will be launched in February in pre-beta form, by Ben Barren’s company Feedcorp. This is interesting and relevant because many blog conversations are often about local issues, not least politics. Some blog search engines, such as Bloghub.com and LSBlogs.com, offer the ability to search within countries, but have very poor coverage, so are of little use. Similar problems apply to country-specific engines such as the Brazilian blogs.com.br.
An article in the Sydney Morning Herald on gnoos compared the initiative to other Australian Internet search engines, such as Panoptic, which have struggled, as most people prefer to use the global search engines such as Google, with which they are familiar, have very broad coverage, and which offer some degree of local search capabilities anyway. However this is not an appropriate comparison. Blogs are interlinked, they are not usually meaningful on their own. Blogs discuss issues of interest to a particular community, which are often local in scope.
Currently, the deeply intertwined discussions that happen in the blogosphere tend to revert to a US-centric perspective, as that is where the dominant pool of bloggers reside. In a way it’s easier for those who don’t speak English, as their community can be easily defined. Certainly the conversations of the blogging-mad Brazilians get entwined with those of the Portuguese, and those of the French with the rest of the francophone community, however there is a reasonably defined community just by virtue of language. In the case of English, the de-facto global language, conversations tend to get drawn back to the US. However Australians, Britons, and English-speaking Indians, among others, are often more interested in engaging in discussions on their own local politics or issues rather than being drawn back to the US domain. Right now we are in a situation in which US conversations are dominating globally, simply due to the size of the US blogging community and the globally interlinked nature of blogs. An excellent country-specific blog search engine can facilitate the creation of interlinked conversations among bloggers of that nation. I hope that gnoos fulfils its promise, and helps the Australian blogging community to develop a greater identity and ability to engage in discussion on local issues. That will be a big move forward in making blogging conversations relevant to local communities. Politics and consumer issues are largely local, and unless there are ways to tap into those blogging conversations, they will have little impact.